tv [untitled] December 14, 2011 3:00am-3:30am PST
i have been a resident of san francisco or the past few years. -- for the past 20 years. in my immigration practice, which i started with the help of the immigrant resource center, who was trying to help low- income immigrants adjust to life in the u.s. new life after amnesty, a lot of people were not able to immigrate because of a lack of money. still to this point, i see a lot of immigrants who want to get their work permits. i ask them how long they have been here. sometimes they have been here since the 1970's, 1980's, 1990's. a lot of them are elderly who are ready to retire. i had 165-year-old man who is
alone, no family -- a 65-year- old man who is alone, no family here, but he does not have any papers to get that social security that he has contributed to for 30 years. he will be homeless after working for many years. i faced this situation with my clients a lot. i help low income people. sometimes it is very difficult. sometimes i think about how small the world is a and i see how immigration laws are changing. immigration rates started about
40 years ago and i started to see my client to come to me. my husband has been here 10 years and all of a sudden, his employer is asking for a work permit. we have two children. we just bought a home. what are we going to do? i could not provide a work permit, so i said, just hope that your boss looks to the other side. in the 1990's, i did not see people coming to ask, what are we going to do? then i started to think about what immigrants bring to the economy, and it is true.
a lot of them were buying homes together. five siblings buying a 5-bedroom home. in those days, 90% of my clients were buying homes because they were putting their money together. immigration started with the raids and then someone gets deported, and then another one. when the subprime problems got us into this bad economy, you also had all this enforcement from the immigration. they would go after good people, arrived in the middle of the night to get someone from their home. i have a case of a young man where immigration came to pick him up at 5:00 a.m. his wife is a citizen.
the other siblings were citizens. by 3:00 in the afternoon, he was already in tijuana in his pajamas with no money, no nothing. fortunately, the other people who were arrested gave him $10 so that he could call his family so that they could wear him money and he could go home. -- wire him money and he could go home. these are the types of cases i see. we need this immigration reform, but what i wish we could do it is -- i would like to see a
media campaign. we want you to present the benefits that immigrants bring here. what we see everywhere is that immigrants are taking jobs away, they are the pressing salaries, they are committing crimes. that is not true. republicans to press our salaries. -- depress ourur salaries. [applause] look -- [laughter] look at all of the major cities around the country. what do they have? they have a vibrant economic immigrant community. san francisco depends on tourism. who goes to those places?
immigrants. we need to engage with the community to and -- believe their fears. i invited a lot of people to come here, and a few i can recognize, but they are afraid to talk to you. you need to go to the communities, churches, places of gathering and tell them, yes we are government, but we want to have you continue to help us. i see those ads on the buses. maybe it could say, did you know 91% of immigrants bring good things to the country? that is what we need to do. just show the positive that immigrants bring to the community. >> thank you.
>> thank you. commissioners, we have quite a stellar panel and we look forward to hearing their insights. the commission has invited a few individuals to provide firsthand testimony on how current immigration policies are affecting their lives, work, and dreams. each of these individuals has demonstrate courage in sharing personal stories and experiences with you. we will first hear from and the co-founder of the dream activists. following that, we will hear from andy macai. following andy, many of you have read about these two's struggle to stay in the country, and
their situation has made them activists. we will hear from shirley and jay. they are represented by an extraordinary attorney. we are going to start now. >> hello, everyone. thank you for inviting me to speak my parents brought me here when i was 14, 10 years ago, from the island country of fiji and the south pacific. and they came here illegally and applied for a green card. no one told them it would take 10 years to get it.
my grandmother is a u.s. citizen and today my parents and my sister, my entire family here are citizens. i am the only undocumented in my family. that is because immigration officials refused to follow the law. i will explain why. it took so long to get my parents residency that i aged out. they do not care when you turn 21. they tell you to get in the back of the line. even waiting nine years, they are asking me to go to the back of the line again. i will be 23 by the time i can immigrate to the country legally. in the meantime, growing up, my parents had no idea this would happen. i graduated from college with a bachelor's in political science with a master's i as well.
we fought hard to stay in the country. according to the law of the land, i am supposed to be able to use my old date for filing for immigration to the country, but so far immigration is refusing to let me use that old date, so i am in a month now. i cannot go back to fiji because i would have a 10-year ban on me. my mother has a small cleaning business she need help with. when i was in college, i used to spend the day talking about the political and economic agendas, and then at night, i would be a janitor. that was my life. in 2007, the dream act, which
would give undocumented citizens like me the opportunity to stay in the country, -- me and a group of other students looked at this group of undocumented students. we are fighting for the dream act to pass. we want to stay in this country to fight to stay where we call home. [applause] >> good evening. i am not a resident, an alien. small businesses are the heart of the american economy, they are responsible for half of all private-sector jobs and create roughly 70% of new jobs in the past decade. small-business this are not only
job generators but are at the heart of the american dream. how does the u.s. government treat small businesses when it comes to immigrants and non- immigrants setting up businesses? i can only speak to my own to tradition on this but i have heard countless episodes of others in the same predicament. eight years ago, i was in scotland running my production company which provides video production and graphic designs for a wide range of clients, both corporate and non- corporate, from start up to the united nations. in 2007, we started a u.s. office to start a u.s. presence. my company only has two full employees but we use a lot of contract employees or events and projects. our total payable has amounted to over $1 million and all
profits have been reinvested in the u.s., nothing sent back to the uk. here is my experience with emigrations -- immigration's. 2002, they issued a visa. 2003, successfully renewed in the u.s. be given eight months to prove our viability. thanks to my attorney for her experience and patience. 2005, the says are renewed successfully. but we have to return to the u.k. for processing because the laws changed. basically, when i try to renew again, they did not believe that i was a manager.
also, they refused to recognize our employee as a professional, even though a four-year degree would exactly mirror the situation. we have been in limbo for 15 months until last friday when we found out the appeal was dismissed on grounds similar to the original denial. at least we know now. or something as important as a green card process, there should be the opportunity to appear before an official to make your case. during the green card fiasco, we were unable to leave the country for family bereavement. we were landlocked. we could not get a renewal of women for five months which must be done outside the u.s. why, if you have already had success of renewals? we ended up driving to tia juana
with our family in order to return to the uk. we then had only five months to verify. we flew back to the u.k. for the interview which cost about $6,000, rather than processing in the u.s. embassies were rude to me and my bike in the process. -- wife in the process. we were a small company but had been in the u.s. for eight years, and had one of our best years. they seemed unaware of general business and tax accounting practices. however, my wife developeafter h
the officer, the visa was approved. afton and there was finger wagging saying that you need to come up was something better than two years' time currently, there is no resolution for these types of green card holders. we will have to constantly trouble in the new at the will of immigration authorities. so how does this affect families? it affects our ability to run a business with unpredictable but times. it makes you unproductive and therefore unproductive thanks to the huge amounts of repetitive information required. processing fees which are a burden to the families involved. it should be dealt with face-to- face at local offices or at least within the u.s. if you stress family, --
our l1 was granted three times and then the ninth three years later. are there any rays of hope? following my experience in london, i returned to the u.s., arriving at sfo. the immigration agents looked at my file and ask why i did not get a green card. i told him i plan last year but it was denied. but they gave you an e2 investor visa, he said. i know, i said. he said, welcome back. [applause]
>> thank you for the opportunity to appear before you this evening. i am a 44-year-old mother and help weiss -- housewife from pacifica, california. i am grateful to share my story with you on an issue that is so critically important to my family and others in the same situation. i am honored to be here today with my partner of 23 years jay mercado. i met him as a graduation present when my father brought me to the u.s.. when we met, our love was instant. since then, we have been committed to each other and our family. our relationship continued even after i returned to the philippines, following the expiration of my six-month the
set. our relationship was expansive given the long distance. when i return to the philippines, i learned my cousin, who murdered my mother and sister, and almost killed me as well, was released from prison after serving only 10- year sentence. i feared for my safety and i knew i was in danger and understood in order to meet, but -- to live, i have to leave the philippines to jay, where i would feel safe. i hired an attorney to apply for legal asylum. my application was denied, so my attorney filed an appeal to the ninth circuit court, and jay and i requested and a regular
basis on theúagr status of the appeal. again and again we were told that it would take a long time before the court gets to my case. i did not know it, but my appeal had also been denied. my attorney never told me. all the while, we thought i was legal in we were waiting for the decision of the court. jay and i went about building our lives together. i gave birth to my two kids. they are the biggest joy in our lives, and i became a full-time mother. our family has always been like every american family, and i am so proud of jay and the twins. the boys attended catholic
schools through sixth grade. they excelled in glasses inclasses and have been at the top of their class. i've volunteered at the school when they need someone to pitch in. i am always the first one to call. jay was a member of the school board at the catholic school. i am a eucharist the minister at the good shepherd church where jay and i sing in the choir. our family is fortunate because we have never fell discriminated against in our community. our friends, mostly heterosexual couples cost a model family. they even call us and their role models. we try to mirror the best family values in spite of the fact that
our children are so well adjusted to the love that we parents have been able to provide their classmates to know that they have two moms and it has never been an issue. i can say without any doubt, our lives were almost perfect until the morning of january 8, 2009. that morning at 6:30 a.m. ice agents showed up at my door. they were looking for a mexican girl. jay did not think twice about letting them in time. when i asked to search, it turned out they were looking for me. the agent showed me a piece of paper which was a 2002 deportation letter, which i informed i had never seen. before i knew it, i was
handcuffed and taken away like a criminal. i was put into a van two other men and searched like a criminal. in an instant, by american family was being ripped away from me. when i did return home, i had an ankle in monitoring bracelet. i went to great lengths to hide it from my children. i have a partner who is a u.s. citizen and two beautiful children who are also citizens, but none of them can petition for me to remain in the country with them. because my partner is not a man, she cannot do anything to help me, nor can my children, who keep asking, why does this
happen to us, and what will ultimately happen to our family? passage of the uniting american families act or inclusion of ufa and lgbt families in immigration reform will not only benefit me about the thousands of people who are also in the same situation as i am. amending immigration policy of this country to include permanent partners will serve, in the long run, to keep families like ours together. it is a great privilege to be here with you today. i humbly ask for your support, and thank you. [applause] >> good evening, everybody.
i have to do it. now i cannot see you. i want to thank the commission, organizers, and tell the panelists how great we are for your insight and advocacy. my name is melanie nathan. i am a personal advocate and conflict resolution specialist. i serve as vice president on the board of fair housing in marine and was recently reappointed to the marin human rights council. i practiced law in south africa before moving to the u.s. in march of this year i was faced with a choice.
i could stay in the united states with might call-year-old daughter in a shared custody arrangement or i would have to leave her behind to go into exile with my same-sex spouse and our four-year old. our nightmare involves navigating the complex immigration system to keep our family together. had we not been of the same sex, we would have not had any problems. after receiving help from senator feinstein, i led the drive to introduced private bill 867. when my advocacy became public, scores of bi-national couples began contacting me for help. not a day goes1/ request. i testified before the california state assembly, judiciary committee, and provided written testimony to senator leahy for the uniting of american families act.
the irc, in making their recommendations to the mayor and board of a supervisors, to improve and enhance the quality of life into the participation of all the grim immigrants in the city and county of san francisco must include the plight of same-sex couples and by-national relationships. at the four of any immigration reform discussion, particularly for this city, the current immigration law fails so many immigrants and families. yes, same-sex relationships stand on prejudicial ground when compared to their heterosexual counterparts. without specific language such as that in the united families act which seeks to have permanent partners, same-sex by dutch national couples will remain victims to the law that
compels discrimination against lgbt couples, including the right to sponsor a spouse, and with no right to a k1 same-sex visa. we are advised that took schumer will introduce same-sex reform in january 2010. we are also told that passage by the spring is imperative. congressman good cheer rest will introduce comprehensive immigration reform for the house apparently in the next few weeks of around thanksgiving. while senator schumer is likely to include this language in any legislation, it is not a slam dunk. as the professor told us, there will be different versions of different bills. now, gutierrez's office has been
quiet on their version. it is critical that lgbt couples are included in the house and senate versions of comprehensive immigration reform. is a quality-based legislation is critical for the tens of thousands of gay or lesbian couples living in exile, illegally, in fear, in detention, or perhaps separated from loved ones. california makes up a large percentage of bi-national couples, and with special notes -- social networking, it has probably tripled. the largest percentage is from the bay area. i would be remiss -- i believe it would be remiss of san francisco for this iconic city to fail in its local by not